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NVC UK Carbon Neutral

BACKGROUND

Rising levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere are causing global temperatures to rise. In turn, this is causing sea levels to rise, deserts to expand, droughts to become more frequent, icecaps to melt and tundra to thaw – all leading to increases in poverty and hunger.

In response, the UK government has committed the country to legally binding GHG emission reductions, compared to 1990 levels, as follows:

  • 68% reduction by 2030
  • 78% reduction by 2035
  • 100% reduction by 2050. At this point, the UK will have reached “net-zero”, or “carbon neutrality”.

(Climate Change Act 2008, https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/27/contents )

There are already statutory obligations on the very large GHG emitters requiring them to reduce their contribution to global warming. However, that’s not enough to enable the UK to reach net-zero. By 2050 we all, individuals and businesses, have to reach net-zero too.

NVC is shouldering its full responsibility and is now (May 2022) carbon neutral.

NVC Carbon Neutral Certificate

NET ZERO & CARBON NEUTRALITY

The most significant greenhouse gas is CO₂. Many human activities involve emitting CO₂ - including just breathing - so it is almost impossible for an individual to achieve what is sometimes called “carbon zero”.

However, it is practical to achieve net zero (or carbon neutrality). This is where our emissions are balanced (or offset) by other activities (such as planting trees or building a wind-farm) that either absorb CO₂ from the atmosphere (which trees do as they grow) or displace other CO₂ emitting activities (as a wind-farm, which emits no CO₂, can displace a coal-fired power station which is a major CO₂ emitter).

This is carbon offsetting, and it is the approach that NVC Lighting has taken to achieve carbon neutrality.

CO & GREENHOUSE GASES

CO₂ is not the only GHG, but by most measures it is the most significant cause of climate change. Other gases can have a much greater climate warming effect per kg emitted, but they tend to be produced in much smaller quantities than CO₂. Therefore, we followed globally recognized standards when we measured our GHG emissions and converted them into tonnes of CO₂ equivalent, written as t CO₂e.

So, while we talk about being “carbon neutral”, in fact we are taking account of all our greenhouse gas emissions, not just the CO₂.

DO IT RIGHT - THREE STEPS TO BECOMING CARBON NEUTRAL

In achieving carbon neutrality, we were determined to “do it right”.

For us, it was not enough to make a rough calculation of our CO₂ emissions and then make some undisclosed contributions to our favorite local projects. We wanted a comprehensive calculation of all our GHG emissions which we could then offset in a process that was accurate, transparent and audited.

To help us, we engaged Carbon Neutral Britain, https://carbonneutralbritain.org/, a leading consultancy and offsetting organization based in London. Under their guidance we completed three steps on the journey to carbon neutrality, and these will be reviewed annually in future:

  1.  Using internationally recognized standards and the support of Carbon Neutral Britain we have calculated our GHG emissions. In the year April 2021 – March 2022 our GHG emissions were 463 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent (t CO₂e).

  2. Under Carbon Neutral Britain’s guidance, we have offset our emissions by investing a sum of money (based on the current market price for each tonne of CO₂e) in The Climate Fund. This fund invests in internationally audited projects to enable them to carry out activities that result in our total GHG emissions for the year in question to be sequestered or displaced

  3.  All the projects to which NVC contributes are audited by internationally recognized bodies to ensure that the money invested in them will yield the promised sequestration of carbon or displacement of GHGs.

NVC’s GHG EMISSION CALCULATION

Our GHG emissions are calculated for the whole NVC UK business, from the point at which we take delivery of light fittings from the factory (typically in China) to the point where we deliver them to our customer (typically a UK-based wholesaler or one of our subsidiaries in Scandinavia).

What’s included?

For the purposes of calculation, our GHG emissions in the year to March 2022 were calculated under 3 separate headings:

  • Scope 1 – 36.39 tonnes of COe. Direct emissions from company vehicles and mains gas usage in our buildings.
  • Scope 2 – 39.08 tonnes of CO Indirect emissions resulting from our electricity usage in our own buildings and electricity used by our staff when working from home.
  • Scope 3 – 387.35 tonnes of COe. Mostly, this is caused by our inbound freight by sea from China. Other emissions in this scope were derived from outbound deliveries to Scandinavia, business travel, hotel stays, waste and water usage.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Chart

What’s excluded?

  • Manufacturing emissions. GHGs emitted as a result of manufacturing our products in China are excluded, because they fall within the scope of the GHG calculation for each of the factories concerned. (GHG emissions arising from our assembly operations in the UK are included in NVC UK’s scope 2.)
  • Product use emissions. When our products are used they consume electricity, and that may cause GHGs to be emitted. However, these emissions would be included under our customers’ scope 2 emissions, so are not included in ours.

OFSETTING – WHAT SORT OF PROJECTS ARE WE SUPPORTING?

To offset our GHG emissions, we have paid a sum of money (via Carbon Neutral Britain), and they have invested it in The Climate Fund – a basket of internationally audited projects involved in three main areas of activity. Because we are part of the electrical industry we decided to focus our offset funds on supporting projects that generate renewable, zero-carbon, power.

  • Wind power electricity generation. The Burgos wind farm project in the Philippines is supported by our offset payments.
    wind power turbines
  • Hydro-power. A power project in the Andes in Chile, supported by NVC’s offset payments, is generating electricity to help meet Chile’s growing power needs.
    Hydro power
  • Bio-fuel electricity generation. We are supporting a power plant in Cambodia, generating electricity by burning rice husks.
    bio fuel generation

The projects in which NVC has invested are all certified by one of either the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), or the Gold Standard Voluntary Emission Reductions (VER) or the Certified Emission Reductions (CER) programme.

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Where are these projects based?

The projects we are supporting are all in Asia, Africa and Latin America. None of them are in the UK or Western Europe. The reason for this is that we are adhering to the principle of “additionality”.

We are concerned that any initiative we support would not have gone ahead without our involvement, and the involvement of other like-minded contributors. There are many reafforestation projects in the UK and Europe (for example) that we could support, but many of them would probably go ahead anyway even if we did not support them. We want our money to be in addition to what would have happened anyway – and to achieve this The Climate Fund seeks out projects where additionality applies.

OUR JOURNEY TO CARBON NEUTRALITY

While offsetting encourages many positive environmental initiatives round the world we are also concerned to reduce our GHG emissions wherever we can. Here are just a few of the things we have done recently to reduce our emissions:

  • 50% reduction in electricity usage. Till 4 years ago we occupied 88,000ft² of warehouse space. Now, with much improved logistics and management we are achieving higher sales and better customer service with much less stock. Now we occupy just 45,000ft² of warehouse space. This has reduced our electricity consumption by nearly 50%.
  • Less packaging. If we reduce the dimensions of the packaging round each of our products, for example by using fewer and smaller packing pieces inside a carton, we can fit more products into a standard 40’ container. That reduces the number of containers we need to import. Container movements are the single largest source of GHGs emitted by NVC’s activities.
  • No printed instruction leaflets. We have replaced printed instruction leaflets with QR codes on every product carton label.
  • Electric vehicles. We have started the process of replacing all petrol and diesel-powered company cars with electric ones. This might take till 2024 to be completed, but the process has started.
  • Monthly environmental review meeting. Each month an internal group meets to look for new ways to reduce our GHG emissions.

Going forward, we are looking closely at installing solar panels on our warehouse rooves.

HELPING OUR CUSTOMERS AND SUPPLIERS ACHIEVE NET-ZERO

Much of what we have done over the past 10 years has helped our customers and suppliers reduce their GHG emissions:

  • Leading the LED revolution. NVC was in the lead, transitioning to LEDs vigorously from about 2013. A typical 600 x 600 fluorescent fitting in 2012 consumed about 80W. Today, the equivalent fitting consumes just 30-35W, a reduction of >55%.
  • 5 & 7 year warranties. In recent years our warranty period has gradually increased and is now 5 – 7 years (depending on the product). Better engineered products that last longer reduce the GHG emissions that would otherwise arise from making, distributing and installing replacements.
  • Improved product performance. Extended rated hours (100,000 or 50,000 hours) and lower rates of lumen depreciation reduce the frequency with which fittings need to be repaired or replaced. Over time, this reduces GHG emissions.
  • QR codes on packaging. These give access via a smart phone to instruction leaflets and data sheets, so that our customers no longer have to print, or dispose of, paper documentation.
  • Less packaging. This reduces our own GHG emissions, because we can fit more products into a container if they include less packaging, but it reduces our customers’ GHG emissions too. When they buy one of our products they become responsible for waste disposal – it is part of their scope 3 emissions. If we reduce our packaging they have less emissions to offset.